Melbourne City FC fought back from a goal down but eventually fell to a 2-3 defeat against Perth Glory in an absorbing contest at AAMI Park on Tuesday evening.
In a captivating clash between two genuine W-League title contenders, City found themselves trailing when Rosie Dee Sutton opened the scoring minutes after the half-time break, until Jess Fishlock levelled the contest with a world class volley.
The Welsh midfielder’s goal sparked a rousing comeback as Aivi Luik’s deflected strike handed City the advantage after 72 minutes, only for Samantha Kerr to restore parity only five minutes later.
Both sides pushed forward in search of the winner but it would be Kerr who would deny City five minutes from time, netting a well-weighted chip over City goalkeeper Lydia Williams to ensure the Glory returned home with all three points.
Looking to bounce back from two consecutive league defeats, City enjoyed decent spells of possession during the early stages of the contest, but were hassled and harried by a high-pressing Glory outfit looking to cause havoc on the break.
The blossoming understanding between international trio Jess Fishlock, Erika Tymrak and Beverly Yanez was evident from the onset as City created the first clear cut-chance of the match after just two minutes.
A neat move on the left between Fishlock and Tymrak saw the American curl in a glorious cross to compatriot Yanez at the back post, who could only scoop her sliding effort over the bar under intense pressure from the Perth defence.
Teigen Allen was only a coat of paint from finding the top corner with a rasping cross that nearly caught Perth goalkeeper Gabrielle Dal Busco off her line, while at the other end, the Glory were starting to showcase their firepower in attack.
The visitors could have easily found themselves ahead after the fifth minute when Sutton sprayed a cut-back from the lively Samantha Kerr, before Vanessa Di Bernardo tested Lydia Williams with a curling left footed drive.
Fishlock was her usual busy self in midfield and nearly opened the scoring with a spectacular free-kick from distance, which was diverted onto the crossbar brilliantly by the fingertips of Dal Busco.
It was a truly absorbing contest with both sides trading goalscoring chances at will. Tymrak was lively on the left flank and fired in a warning shot just wide of Dal Busco’s crossbar, while some desperate defending from Barnes prevented Sutton from finishing off a textbook counter attack.
Kerr’s influence on the match continued to grow as the contest wore on, and the forward had two golden opportunities to put the visitors ahead at the break. The first of which produced a superb save from the boot of Williams, while a curling effort just before half-time was a whisker away from putting the gloss on another swift Perth break.
Such was the volume of chances created, a goal was inevitable. However it was the visitors who caught City cold only moments after the restart, as Sutton turned home Shawn Billam’s cut-back past Williams to hand Perth the advantage.
It was the wakeup call City needed. Tymrak stung the palms of Dal Bosco with another clever run and shot from the left, before Fishlock rattled the side netting after yet another driving run into the penalty area.
But the Welsh midfielder would have the crowd on its feet only moments after with a moment of acrobatics, volleying home spectacularly to bring City level.
Head Coach Joe Montemurro opted to inject some pace with the introduction of Jacynta Galabadaarachchi on 62 minutes, and the teenager nearly made an instant impact with a thunderous effort that rattled the crossbar after Steph Catley's cross was only partially cleared.
Both sides continued to trade blows as Kerr saw another effort denied by a brilliant reaction save from Williams, until City turned the contest on its head in the 72nd minute with the go-ahead goal.
Galabadaarachchi's cross went through a sea of Perth defenders before making its way to Luik, whose shot took a wicked deflection past Dal Busco and into the net to give City the lead.
Any celebrations were short lived, however, as Kerr finally got on the score sheet to square the contest at 2-2, running on to Sutton's pass and slotting home past Williams.
City were up against it when Lauren Barnes received her marching orders for a second yellow card, before Kerr stunned the home crowd with six minutes remaining, chipping Williams from an acute angle to put the Glory ahead.
Alleway nearly earned City a share of the spoils at the death with a header that cannoned off the post deep into injury time, but it wasn’t to be for Montemurro’s side who will look to bounce back at home against Adelaide United next Monday.
Player of the Match
She may be only 15 years of age, but Jacynta Galabadaarachchi put in a performance well beyond her years with a lively cameo against the Glory.
Replacing Erika Tymrak after 62 minutes, the teenager was at the heart of City's rousing comeback, firing into the side netting and rattling the crossbar only mninutes after her introduction.
Galabadaarachchi's caused havoc in the final third, troubling the Perth defence with her willingness and take on defenders at pace and excellent technical ability, while laying off the cross for Aivi Luik's important goal.
It was another encouraging display from the youngster, who is certain to benefit from such valuable W-League experience at an early age.
Bring on the new year! City return to action at home when Joe Montemurro’s side take on Adelaide United at CB Smith Reserve on Monday 2 January, kick-off at 7:15pm.
Entry is free for Melbourne City members.
Westfield W-League – Round 8
Melbourne City FC 2 (Jess FISHLOCK 60’, Aivi LUIK 72’)
Perth Glory 3 (Rosie Dee SUTTON 47’, Samantha KERR 77’,85’)
Kick-off time: 5:05pm (AEDT)
Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne
Referee: Casey Reibelt
Melbourne City FC: 1. Lydia WILLIAMS (GK), 2. Teigen ALLEN, 3. Lauren BARNES, 5. Laura ALLEWAY, 6. Aivi LUIK, 7. Steph CATLEY (C), 10. Jess FISHLOCK, 11. Erika TYMRAK (18.Jacynta GALABADAARACHCHI 62’), 13. Rebekah STOTT, 14. Melina AYRES (15.Amy JACKSON 84’), 16. Beverly YANEZ
Substitutes not used: 23. Erin HUDSON (GK),19.Tyla-Jay VLAJNIC
Head Coach: Joe MONTEMURRO
Yellow cards: Barnes 73’, 79’
Red cards: Barnes 79’
Newcastle Jets: 2. Sarah CARROLL, 3. Kim CARROLL, 4. Alyssa MAUTSZ, 7. Nicole STANTON, 8. Shawn BILLAM (13.Jaymee GIBBONS 53’) 10. Vanessa DI BERNARDO (14. Caitlin DOEGLAS 70’), 17. Natasha RIGBY, 18. Gabrielle DAL BUSCO, 20. Samantha KERR, 22. Arianna ROMERO
Substitutes not used: 1. Melissa MAIZELS (GK), 5. Patricia CHARALAMBOUS
Head Coach: Bobby DESPOTOVSKI
Yellow cards: Stanton 18’, Gibbons 90+2
Red cards: nil